BBC to adapt Les Misérables in new six-part drama

Writer Andrew Davies will work with his War and Peace team to bring Victor Hugo's 19th-century novel to the small screen

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Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is coming to the small screen – thanks to a new six-part drama from the BBC. 

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Andrew Davies will adapt the 19th-century novel, set against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest. 

In February, Davies stated his interest in moving the story away from the musical versions – “I hated, particularly, the film of the musical because the singing was so appalling” – and expressed concern that the story had been done too many times. But he and the BBC are now on board. 

“Les Misérables is a huge, iconic title. Most of us are familiar with the musical version, which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story,” Davies said today, launching the series. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last by adapting his masterpiece in a six-hour version for the BBC.” He added that he’ll be working with the team he had when he wrote BBC’s War and Peace. 

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “Andrew Davies’ extraordinary skill for adaptation will bring the world-famous Les Misérables into powerful focus for a modern audience, with a multi-layered re-telling of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. BBC1 viewers can expect the same quality and scale from the team behind War and Peace in this epic tale of redemption and the healing power of love.”

The series will air in the US and China via Weinstein Television – and Harvey Weinstein is delighted: “Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is one of the greatest novels of all time,” the screen mogul said. “While the musical is one of my favourites, this will be completely different. An intense and serious drama that will find contemporary relevance to what’s going on in the world today. With the exception of James Bond, nobody does it better than Andrew Davies.”

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An air date has yet to be confirmed. And as for the cast, well, watch this space.